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West Coast Avengers Annual #3: Review

Oct 1988
Steve Englehart, Gerry Talaoc

Story Name:

Heads you lose

Review & Comments

4 stars

West Coast Avengers Annual #3 Review by (February 4, 2023)
This is part of the 1988 Evolutionary War Annuals crossover. High Evolutionary is now dedicated to ensuring that humanity will grow into the supreme race in the universe. To that end he sent agents to eliminate threats to this plan like drug dealers, Moloids and dangerous mutants. He also tried to get Silver Surfer's genetic code and the Inhumans' Terrigen Mist, and attempted to close the Nexus Of All Realities. He restored the Savage Land to use as a base.

This Annual follows on from West Coast Avengers #37 where the WCA split. Hawkeye leads the 'real' team while Mockingbird heads the breakaway group. This issue contains 3 stories. The 1st 2 stories show the main and secondary teams respectively getting involved in the War. The 3rd story is the next chapter in the history of the Evolutionary running through all the Annuals.

The only other app of 1 of Wakanda's THROBs was in Fantastic Four #311. Dr Doom created it to guard the vibranium mound in return for Wakanda sheltering him while Kristoff Vernard (believing *himself* to be Doom) held Latveria.

Bill Foster was last seen, in his scientist role, in Av#244.

Ka-Zar, Shanna and baby Adam were last seen when the Savage Land was recreated in X-Men An #12. And that was the 1st app for Adam. But he'll later be called Matthew.

HE seems to have 2 separate aides he calls Stack and Foks. Foks is the 1 who teleports to Wakanda to steal the vibranium sample. Marvel Fandom Wiki lists them as separate chars. But when Tigra meets Stack she says he smells like a fox, and Foks is presumably evolved from a fox. Stack has also been named in the earlier X-Factor An #3 and New Mutants An #4 and the later Spectacular Spider-Man An #8.

The Evolutionary War has only 2 Annuals left:- SSM An#8 and Av An#17, and High Evolutionary will of course be in both. But none of the other chars will.

Shanna will have her own tale in Marvel Comics Presents #13. Then Ka-Zar will solo in MCP#16. And Adam will join them both in Uncanny X-Men #250.

Black Panther will also have a tale in MCP#13.

Hawkeye's group will be seen flying their quinjet back to the US in the wraparound to an out-of-sequence fill-in tale in #38. Then both groups plus Giant-Man will be in #39 for real.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

West Coast Avengers Annual #3 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In his base in the newly-restored (X-Men Annual #12) Savage Land the High Evolutionary has hired many technicians to work on a large bomb. But now his aide Stack sends out the armoured Gatherers (created by HE as he once created his New Men from animals) to Wakanda to get a sample of vibranium that he needs. However 1 of his scientists we might recognise as Bill Foster who secretly slips a message capsule in the collar of 1 of their uniforms.

As they leave the man who was Herbert Edgar Wyndham ponders some history (for the benefit of us readers). Evolutionary created Counter-Earth (Marvel Premiere #1). But in Marvel Two-In-One #3 the Beyonders had it towed away to their museum, and when HE followed them their overwhelming superiority drove him mad. But lately (Fantastic Four #316-317) the FF discovered that agents of the Beyonders created the Savage Land, and now (FF#318-319) they are in the Negative Zone seeking to discover more about them. The possibility that they might attract the Beyonders' attention back to Earth makes it imperative that he completes his plan quickly. (These last bits may be more to do with advertising the FF series which Steve Englehart also writes.)

The Gatherers teleport into Wakanda but Black Panther and his warriors bar their way to the the vibranium mound. The defenders attack, the warriors wielding hi-tech spears backed by large robots called THROBs (TransHuman ROBots). The THROBs absorb all power directed against them and return it to sender. The Gatherers are defeated and try to teleport back home but Wakandan tech stops them. While searching the foe for clues as to their purpose and allegiance Foster's message is found. It tells the recipient that the world is in danger, gives the co-ordinates of HE's base and asks them to contact Henry Pym at the West Coast Avengers Compound.

BP does so and soon a quinjet arrives. Hawkeye exits it leading Scarlet Witch, Vision, Wonder Man and guest Mantis. He explains that Hank left the team (#37) and has to admit that his wife Mockingbird seceded from the group at the same time and took Moon Knight and Tigra with her. And he and Bobbi's marriage is split too. T'Challa in turn tells them about the invasion and the message. The early Avengers recognise Bill Foster as Pym's lab assistant who later used Pym particles to become Black Goliath in Power Man #24-25 and his own short-lived series. Later in Marvel Two-In-One #55 he changed his super-id to Giant-Man. Back in BG#1 he contracted cancer from a radioactive foe. In MTIO#85 a transfusion of super-immune blood from the original Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) cured him, but as a result he had to retire from superheroing and concentrate on science again.

Suddenly the Panther Totem rises out of its silo to relay a video message that Wakanda's hidden techno-jungle has been invaded. Panther and the WCA rush there and find 6 superbeings have defeated its warriors. 2 called Sound and Smell assail BP's heightened senses with their output. Scarlet Witch tries to hex Smell but can't locate inside the stench-cloud. Sight's laser-beams shred Vision's defending cloak and then overwhelm the solar jewel on his forehead. Wonder Man tackles Touch but hesitates to harm a woman ... until she knees him in the groin and throws him through some machinery. Taste's acid-shooting fingers melt the arrows Hawkeye sends his way and then try to hit *him*. Mantis tries her martial arts tricks on Intuition who can sense her moves before she makes them.

Vision starts to fight back sending his own solar beam into Sight's eyes. Wanda changes tack and hexes Smell's cloud to obscure Sight's sight. The synthezoid's strength then easily defeats his foe and his eye-blast KO's Smell. Simon Williams finally psychs himself to hit Touch who turns out to have a glass jaw. Clint Barton fires an acid arrow to confuse Taste who then doesn't notice the boomerang arrow which conks him from behind. Mantis clears her mind and then strikes on instinct which Intuition can't foresee. T'Challa leads Sound to the vibranium mound because its vibration-absorbing property nullifies the foe's power making him easy to beat. But it also means BP doesn't hear another foe teleport in, blast free a lump of vibranium and teleport out. (The 2nd story will let us know this guy is called Foks and is presumably an uplifted fox.)

Thinking they've won the WCA leave Wakanda and head for the co-ordinates in the Savage Land. But T'Challa senses that something is wrong all over the world. And when the team get to their destination all they find is a very large hole in the ground.

Story 2:- Tails you win

For this part Chris Ivy finishes over Al Milgrom's layouts.

In #38 the breakaway team Mockingbird, Moon Knight and Tigra learned that the WCA's foe Master Pandemonium had been seen in Antarctica so they took a quinjet to investigate. (But they seem to have forgotten that reason to be here.) Now they arrive to find the Savage Land which as far as they knew had been destroyed (by Terminus in Av#275). When they land they are met by Ka-Zar who tells them the Land was restored by High Evolutionary (XM An#12) and points out HE's citadel. Since then KZ and his wife Shanna have returned from the US with their baby son Adam Plunder. Bobbi Barton and Tigra take time out to fuss over the baby while MK questions Kevin Plunder about HE. Mockingbird explains how the Bartons and the WCA have split up.

Then the team head to HE's base and knock on the door. Stack lets them in and leads them to HE. Along the way we pass Bill Foster who thinks they are here in response to his message, but he's not ready for them. Herbert Wyndham is all-too-willing to explain that he's building a bomb here which will mutate everyone on Earth, because he then unleashes a gas to knock them out. However the Moon-God Khonshu takes over Moon Knight's body and allows him to attack without breathing. But eventually the body runs out of oxygen and collapses.

The 3 Avengers wake up separated in a maze. Mocky defeats a tentacled robot with her battlestaves even though 1 arm is still in a cast (since #36). Tigra agilely evades a robot with a long reach until her claws can mess up its brain. She smells Marc Spector on the other side of a wall and rips through it to find him with another robot in pieces. And she starts passionately kissing him.

Meanwhile HE tells us that the 1st Avenger to exit the maze will earn the 'right' to become the guinea pig for his evolutionary formula. Another aide called Foks tells him that the Gatherers and Sensors aren't doing well in Wakanda. But the boss is sure 1 of them will reach the vibranium mound and then Foks can do *his* bit. And Bill Foster has left his work to get in to a restricted area, but he has to fight 2 guards.

Mockingbird works her way through the maze and uses her combined battlestave to break open a door which leads her into the presence of the High Evolutionary. She attacks him and he underestimates her which enables her to knock him down. But he responds by growing giant-size and holds her aloft. Bill Foster is watching. He hasn't dared become Giant-Man since he was cured of cancer, but he carries a vial of his serum with him. Now he swallows that and grows to challenge HE at his own size. Bobbi is forgotten as the 2 giants trade blows. Apparently GM's enlarged brain is immune to HE's psychic attacks.

Foster takes time to explain that he joined this project to find a way to safely grow again, because he believes that the cancer-free mass he absorbs in the process from another dimension will help cleanse him of remaining cancer. Evolutionary calls off the fight because he feels kinship with someone trying to evolve himself. He gets a message from Foks to say he's succeeded in getting a vibranium sample from Wakanda without being noticed. But HE considers this base is now too compromised so he'll continue building his bomb elsewhere. And he flies off through the ceiling.

Foster suspects that the Evolutionary will destroy this base behind him, so he and Mockingbird locate Moon Knight and Tigra and escape. They see HE's ship leaving and they run away before the base explodes behind them. They leave the Savage Land by quinjet to warn the world about HE's planned bomb. And another quinjet arrives disgorging Hawkeye's gang who only find a smoking hole where the base had been.

After some pin-ups we get to Story 3:- The final frontier

This story has a very different creative squad:-
Writer Mark Gruenwald. Penciller Ron Lim. Inker Tony DeZuniga. Colourist Greg Wright. Letterer Ken Lopez. Editor Ralph Macchio

This continues the history of the High Evolutionary. Previous installments have dealt with his life before his 1st published apps in Thor #134-135. They included his involvement in the origins of Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch, Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) and the Werewolf By Night.

We skip over that unveiling of HE and his evolved-animal New Men to just show Thor leaving the citadel on Mount Wundagore with Jane Foster, as the citadel takes off because it was really a giant spaceship. We see Bova and the young Jessica Drew left behind. The experimental stardrive takes HE and his Knights Of Wundagore to a new planet he dubs Wundagore 2. They find a deserted city there and Herbert Wyndham evolves some female animals he brought with him to become mates for his male Knights and populate this world.

However the evolved animals become savage and kill the faithful Sir Porga, and begin to fight each other for power in a civil war. HE dispatches the also-faithful Sir Ram in a shuttle craft to Earth to recruit Hulk to quell the insurrection (Tales To Astonish #94-96). This sort of works but Wyndham himself is fatally injured. He uses his evolvo-ray on himself and becomes a cosmic being. Before leaving to become 1 with the universe he devolves his New Men back to animals and sends Hulk back to Earth.

Gerry Talaoc
Gerry Talaoc
Marc Siry
Al Milgrom (Cover Penciler)
Mike Machlan (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Bill Oakley.
Editor: Mark Gruenwald. Editor-in-chief: Tom DeFalco.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther


(Clint Barton)
Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch

(Wanda Maximoff)

(Greer Nelson)

Plus: Giant-Man (Bill Foster), Matthew Plunder, Shanna (Shanna the She-Devil).

> West Coast Avengers Annual: Book info and issue index

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